The War for Tablet Supremacy

To Mac or to Amazon? It’s a truly difficult question when it comes to tablets.

On one side, there is the corporation that has led the pack in both fashion and function, surviving the recession and satisfying our generation’s interest in expensive gadgetry.

On the other side, there is the company that owns the website that serves as a haven for music, literature and movies, as well as an online flea market for the obscure and unknown random finds. In the world of LED, touch interface and user-friendly software, whose device will ultimately reign supreme?

To be completely honest, it was only a matter of time before the iPad had a formidable opponent, and to Apple’s advantage, they’ve stood unopposed for longer than seemingly possible. Mac is commonly known for paving the way for popular electronics due to the widespread success of the iPhone, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, which encouraged consumer confidence despite the hiked-up prices in comparison to the Sony or Panasonic equivalent counterparts. BlackBerry and HTC attempted to compete with the iPad, but unfortunately their correspondingly steep prices did not discourage brand loyalty to the original tablet nor were there substantial pros and cons to benefit or weaken these competitors. The average person will choose what is familiar rather when the price is cerebus paribus.

For anyone who is not up to date with the critically-acclaimed Amazon product, the Kindle Fire has a 14.6-ounce, fast dual-processor and protective seven-inch Gorilla Glass capable of showing 16 million colors permitting the owner to comfortably watch television, movies, books, magazine, music and play with an array of apps (rumored to be Android developed in the near future) literally at their fingertips.

The previous Kindle models have sold in gross quantities to the well-read community due to their ability to hold a flabbergasting plethora of novels, newspapers and magazines. It made perfect sense to have the website known for offering astonishing bargains on MP3s and other media, to release a product that envelops anything and everything they have to offer. If the effortlessly sleek design and flexible option of either a touch screen or a keyboard didn’t have a potential customer absolutely sold, the entry level Kindle Fire costs a shockingly affordable $199, which is an ample fraction of the dismaying $499 for the standard, no-frills iPad 2.

The question always arises with a more reasonably-priced copycat product. What features does the impending buyer lose when spending less? Although the Fire has eight gigabytes of storage, which is significantly small when considering the amount of space it takes to store videos, all the content consumers buy through Amazon will be stored and backed up online. The most apparent disadvantage for the Fire is that it is limited to Wi-Fi access, in contrast to the viable 3G alternative for the iPad; hindering online usage for the user on the go.

However, the up-and-comer has a few technologically savvy tricks up its sleeve. Silk, the recently introduced Web browser, is promising in both speed and downloading capacity; a trait quite alluring to anyone who has experienced the frustrating, unpredictable glitches of Cloud and Lion. In addition, Whispersync, a feature that allows readers to multitask whilst reading or watching a movie, appeals to the prior Kindle customers who can have their page corner virtually folded while they browse the Web or stream videos. Last but not least, the Fire is powered by the Android operating system that has been Apple’s healthy competition for the past year.

We must not discredit the revolution that commenced with the innovation of the iPad and the iPad 2 driven by the late, legendary Steve Jobs. The iPad brought the initial product of an easy-to-use touch interface that’s able to surf the web by combining the best of the iPod and MacBook worlds.

Nevertheless, it’s the dawn of a new age in the high-tech universe; where more than one renowned corporation will be an identifiable with premium, high-powered tablet. Will Apple, notorious for stubbornly high prices, discount or revise the iPad in order to lure customers back to where it all began? Will Amazon’s unveiling be as efficacious, and dazzling enough to exceed the already extraordinary expectations?

Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure: it’s time to fight fire with Fire.

Tracy Ratledge is a first-year literary journalism major. She can be reached at tratledg@uci.edu.